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image of Nuncius

<title> SUMMARY </title>The essay examines the title pages of the Systema naturae (german edition, 1760) by Linnaeus and of the Paradisi in Sole (1629) by J. Parkinson. Both images show Adam in the garden of Eden, while he gives a name to the creatures therein. For Parkinson - who holds an «isidorian» conception of meaning - the original word expresses the «essence» of what is signified in the world. In actual taxonomic practice, this involves the use of a «diagnostic» nomenclature, with lenghthy polynomials, intended to describe the whole living being. The efficacy of Linnean binomial nomenclature, instead, is due to the clear distinction between the denotative and the descriptive functions of language, linked to a highly selective «sexual system» of classification. However, elements of the «isidorian» conception are present, all the same, in Linnean thought, but they aquire new meanings by being transposed in a mechanist frame of reference. The subjects illustrated and their arrangement express furthermore the Linnean vision of the relationships of Man and other primates as based on continuity.The analysis of the two title pages shows also how images of this kind, in the early modern period, could function as effective pictorial introductions to scientific works, suggesting in which way the text should be read.

Affiliations: 1: Università di Ferrara


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